Creed mixed with memoir by a veteran educator. The hottest issues in education now—school choice and voucher plans—are offshoots of acorns cultivated, if not planted, by this author 30 years ago. Kohl (Should We Burn Babar?, 1995, etc.) has long been a controversial figure in the debate over so-called open classrooms and community-based teaching. In this new book, which reflects on his teaching experiences from the early 1960s to the present, Kohl champions, as always, the students who taught him as much as he taught them, whether in kindergarten, sixth grade, high school, or college. He begins with his earliest assignments in New York City public schools, where black and Latino children predominated, and with his unusually committed service to their parents and communities. He also lays out his struggle with ``the business of school reform'' and emphasizes that reform remains ``a business, more so in the 1990s than ever before.'' Kohl meanwhile mourns the growing stigmatization of children with learning disabilities and celebrates the founding of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, which brings writers into New York City schools as mentors. After New York, he went on to teach in Berkeley, Calif., both at the college level and privately, seemingly always excited by his students and appalled by a teaching establishment more concerned with its own vested interests than with the lives of children. Then returning to New York as a kind of master teacher, Kohl notes yet again—but doesnt expound on—what an extraordinarily talented and well-trained teacher it takes to find and nurture the best in every student. No contrary critical voice intervenes to offset his unfortunate tone of patting himself on the back. Nevertheless, this is a book that will recharge a teacher's batteries.

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-81412-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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